Juniper Opens Up to Apps Developers
The Partner Solution Development Platform (PSDP) is aimed at widening the scope of Juniper's router software. If it works, customers could develop their own JunOS applications without having to wait for JunOS's strict updating schedule. Independent software vendors (ISVs) could even sell their homegrown applications jointly with Juniper.
"It's a way to get third-party applications running within the router traffic as quickly as possible," says IDC analyst Eve Griliches, who thinks the PSDP is a great idea. "The applications we don't know about today could be created by some startup company and developed into a Juniper application. Things are moving so quickly in the market."
This isn't quite quite like Verizon Wireless opening up its network. (See Verizon Tears Down the 'Walled Garden' .)
In fact, it's nothing like that, nor is Juniper joining the treehouse of open-source licensing.
The PSDP is an invitation-only process. Juniper has to give permission for any given project to start, and a Juniper support team will watch every step of the application's development.
Juniper says its presence will help partners avoid messing up their routers' functions. But officials admit it's also a way to make sure no one exploits the PSDP to develop rogue applications. That applies to ISVs especially.
"We would work with them in a very specific manner where we knew exactly what they were going to take to market," says Craig Bardenheuer, Juniper's vice president of joint development and product partnerships.
Still, it's an interesting experiment. Juniper (and Cisco) customers can already write applications to run on their own blades, but here they're getting to go elbow-deep in JunOS, accessing the control and data planes, and even messing with the routing tables if necessary.
This won't be like some Internet video "beta test" that ends up in the hands of every schoolkid who wants in, though. "In the foreseeable future, I don't see the project going beyond invite-only," Bardenheuer says.
Juniper is announcing Aricent Inc. and Avaya Inc. as two of the first invitees, but Bardenheuer says others have been approved.
One thing the PSDP creates is a way around JunOS's release schedule. Unlike Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which supports multiple releases of its Internetwork Operating System (IOS), Juniper keeps one release of JunOS for all applicable routers. Updates arrive once per quarter with the stringency of a Swiss train schedule -- if a feature isn't ready, it's left behind.
Partly, then, the PSDP would be for the folks who can't wait, or those who need something that's never going to be part of a JunOS update.
"They can build things that are unique to their needs and their specific timeframes," Bardenheuer says. "We've had a number of customers ask us about being able to build unique capabilities for them."
What kinds of things would they build? Juniper says a few ideas are already in the works: ISV applications to be sold jointly with Juniper; unique services developed by a carrier; or a JunOS-based appliance to be sold by a third-party vendor.
Juniper could face some complications if the program grows quickly. For one, the company would have to keep adding to that pool of developers who work with PSDP participants.
Juniper could also end up tussling over the details of the application programming interface (API) that lets other code talk to JunOS. "They might have somebody like the government who takes an application and does so much development on it that they want the API changed again," Griliches says. Then "it becomes a customer maintenance issue."
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading